The right moves: Time to get focused if 2016 is to replicate the success of last year
It's the start of another year and the media is awash with advice from psychologists and "mindfulness" experts. But is this business psychology all "hocus-pocus" or are there practical applications for professionals in the property industry? Thirty years in the business has taught me that more awareness of the minds and behaviours of our staff, clients, purchasers and ourselves, will pay dividends.
It's worth remembering that if we take four weeks holidays and don't work weekends or bank holidays, there are just 215 days until we are sitting down again to Christmas dinner. Now that's not much time to achieve all those new resolutions. My advice is to pick just one goal: what is it you really want to achieve in life, "the game-changer," and focus effort on that.
A very successful initiative I saw in the business was when my firm stopped each department having a long list of target clients and changed it to one target only-the dream new client. Within months there was a series of notable new client wins and that was simply due to the clarity and focus of effort.
I'm a great believer in "plans"-every individual, department and organisation should have a simple plan for what they are going to achieve this year, what actions they are going to take to achieve it, and when. If we don't have a plan, we are just drifting and hoping for the best. Younger staff are bursting with enthusiasm at this time of year, full of hope and confidence, and managers waste that if they don't provide direction.
This first quarter of the year is crucial as it's when you lay foundations. It's a time of opportunity as companies make changes and decide to buy or sell property, so there are lots of instructions to be won. It can be a tough period in that you're coming into work in the dark and going home in the dark but I probably always worked my hardest in this period.
It's important to get the year off to a strong start and it's the instructions you win now that will turn into fee accounts throughout the year. If you're ahead of budget at the end of March, you can build on that momentum towards a great year. However if you're behind target after three months, instructions won in the second quarter may not sell or close over the summer and before you know it, you're behind target at the end of September, with reducing chances to save the year.
I advise against having staff working to "year-ends" at the end of March or September, to coincide with "tax years" as it's unnatural and is like working with "jet-lag." The last thing you want is your staff taking a breather after the "year- end" in April or October, which are strong selling months.
I believe that a negotiators attitude or "energy" are important. Once a negotiator came to me in despair. A building he was selling had just "fallen through" for a second time. The marketing budget was spent and there was increasing tension between the negotiator and client. I told him to write to the client with our new plan for success. We would pay for some classified advertising, issue a new press release, send leaflets to doctors at a nearby hospital and wash the signboards.
The building was sold shortly afterwards. Who knows which part of the plan worked (if any) but it was the renewed confidence of the negotiator that affected his attitude with potential purchasers and his relationship with the client. The most important thing was that there was a plan for success and I saw this phenomenon repeated many times.
I encourage "visualisation" for presentations or pitches to potential clients. Picture yourself performing brilliantly, impressing the clients as being professional and articulate. When you're in that presentation, it feels like you've been there before and you are more likely to perform as you envisaged. Providing you've prepared properly, "visualisation" gives you a real edge.
A "winning mindset" among your staff is crucial and you build this by communicating goals and celebrating achieving them. If you send out a team which has lost its last three pitches, they are highly unlikely to win the next pitch. But a team that won its last three pitches is "odds on" to succeed again. Their attitude, enthusiasm and "the winning formula" will influence the potential client. "Success breeds success."